Published: Oct. 20, 2016 By

The School of Education and Department of Ethnic Studies have partnered to offer a new program that will allow future teachers to earn a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and a master’s degree in education in five years.

The new “4+1 Ethnic Studies and Education Concurrent Degree Program” (BA/MA) will begin admitting students in spring 2017.

Arturo Aldama, associate professor and associate chair for the Department of Ethnic Studies, said BA/MA is the only program of its kind in Colorado and that it will help the University of Colorado Boulder attract and retain more under-represented students and those interested in working with diverse classrooms and social-justice issues.

Arturo Aldama

Arturo Aldama

"BA/MA can boost CU’s inclusiveness efforts to prepare students for a multi-racial society where all cultural and gender expressions should be valued and honored,” Aldama said.

"Curriculum matters if it includes everyone’s voices — especially those under-represented in higher education. BA/MA will let students of color see themselves in the classroom, and it will enhance the values of democracy and pluralism."

Aldama added that BA/MA will:

  • Give CU students more diverse perspectives on society.
  • Show future teachers how to work with diverse communities.
  • Offer teachers ways incorporate materials and perspectives that can mesh with the experiences of communities of color.
  • Promote instruction based on critical thinking and commitment to social justice and racial and gender equity.
  • Help future generations become invigorated about living in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society.


Cecilia Valenzuela

Liz Meyer, associate dean for teacher education in the School of Education, said she’s excited about the potential that ethnic studies students will have to offer as teachers.


“The critical lenses they develop in ethnic studies courses will serve them well as potential change agents in many fields,” Meyer said. “BA/MA will offer a rich environment where they can deepen their knowledge and give them meaningful and relevant ways to apply their skills and perspectives to improve educational opportunities in schools and communities."

BA/MA is the brainchild of Cecilia Valenzuela, a doctoral candidate in literacy and ethnic studies and a former advisor for the Department of Ethnic Studies who’s been working since 2009 to get the program started.   

Aldama says Valenzuela’s “tireless years and years of efforts” were critical to BA/MA. “She worked hard to bridge ethnic studies and education. Without her, who knows when or even if this would have happened,” he said.

Liz Meyer

Liz Meyer

Valenzuela said while she was advising in ethnic studies, she met and worked with several leaders in the School of Education and Department of Ethnic Studies. “There were many factors and wonderful people behind BA/MA,” she says.


One CU alumnus and current high school teacher in Denver, Jason Romero, praised Valenzuela and CU Boulder for creating BA/MA. Romero, who graduated earlier this year with a bachelor of arts in ethnic studies and a master of arts in education/curriculum and instruction, said he’s taught ethnic studies and seen the effect it has on young students.

“In the past two years, I have watched students who’ve historically been resistant to school become engaged when they see their story in the curriculum,” Romero said. “Ethnic studies are an invaluable opportunity to learn about their own cultural capital and their own ability to effect positive social change.”

Romero added that he believes BA/MA can be a major catalyst in improving public education in Colorado, especially for the growing populations of “marginalized communities." 

Officials say BA/MA will offer two masters’ degree paths:

  1. A master of arts in curriculum and instruction plus teacher licensure for ethnic studies majors who are interested in becoming licensed teachers at the secondary English, social studies or elementary levels;
  2. A master of arts in educational foundations and policy and practice for those interested in policy and curricular issues and developing an interdisciplinary lens in graduate level research.

Students may apply at the beginning of their junior year or at any time before completing their undergraduate studies. Applicants must have declared ethnic studies as a major and hold 3.0 or higher grade-point average. Once admitted, students must keep at least a 3.0 grade-point average and complete six credits of graduate-level courses by the second semester of their senior year.

For more information, contact advisors at or 303-492-6555.